Effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on neuropathic pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2022 Jan:132:130-141. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.11.037. Epub 2021 Nov 24.


Neuropathic pain (NP) is a chronic pain condition caused by lesion or disease of the somatosensory nervous system. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a neuroregulatory tool that uses pulsed magnetic fields to modulate the cerebral cortex. This review aimed to ascertain the therapeutic effect of rTMS on NP and potential factors regulating the therapeutic effect of rTMS. Database search included Web of Science, Embase, Pubmed, and Cochrane Library from inception to July 2021. Eligible studies included randomized controlled studies of the analgesic effects of rTMS in patients with NP. Thirty-eight studies were included. Random effect analysis showed effect sizes of -0.66 (95 % CI, -0.87 to -0.46), indicating that real rTMS was better than sham condition in reducing pain (P < 0.001). This comprehensive review indicated that stimulation frequency, intervention site, and location of lesion were important factors affecting the therapeutic effect. The findings of this study may guide clinical decisions and future research.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Neuropathic pain; Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; rTMS.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia* / etiology
  • Neuralgia* / therapy
  • Pain Management / adverse effects
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Treatment Outcome